The Happiness of Housing Projects: Studies in Crap and Today’s American Democracy Consider the World of Tomorrow!


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Today’s American Democracy
Author: John Lincoln Williams and Palmer Peckham Howard
Publisher: J.B. Lippincott
Discovered at: Thrift store

Representative Quotes:
“There seems to be no ground for the belief that members of one race are decisively physically superior to those of another. Concerning the relative mental abilities of various races, however, there is less certainty.” (page 163)

“Propaganda is an attempt to influence people toward a certain view. Hence, it is a means to an end. This end may be desirable for human welfare.” (page 365)

Written, as its authors report, “under the shadow of a great global war,” Today’s American Democracy is somewhat wistful as it documents the marvels and the troubles of the America it is social-studying. With a frankness foreign to today’s textbooks, authors Williams and Howard address crime, education, racism, the plight of the farmer, and how propaganda is sometimes a bad thing.

Of health care, they write, “The truth is that the present method of medical practice works in such a way that the benefits of medical progress are denied to millions of people.”

Fortunately, there’s been some progress.

Toady, that kid would merely suffer obesity and diabetes.

Like today’s American democracy, Today’s American Democracy is preoccupied with issues of race. “Among white people there is a universal belief that theirs is the world’s superior race,” the authors write. Apparently uncertain of the meaning of “universal,” Williams and Howard profess not to believe in white superiority themselves — at least, not until further “scientific study” weighs in on the matter.

They recognize key achievements of African-Americans: “Even those who criticize the Negro intellect have to admit the success of the black race in literature, art, and music.”

Good spirits are likely responsible for that success.

It’s understandable that the urban planners of 1943 assumed that bigger projects would yield even happier happiness.

Here, Williams and Howard break down two of “the three races.”

While we share many problems with 1943, the worldview of Williams and Howard would confound today’s Republicans and Democrats.

But this open-border policy doesn’t mean they’re soft on immigrant babies!

Still, Williams and Howard understand that prejudice is a problem, and they encourage the high school students of 1943 to consider its roots. One problem: There’s too damn much America.

We have to fill all that country with something. Why not hatred?

Of course, it’s not just rural Americans in their Prejudice Shanties who judge each other. Maybe you do, too. Here’s a test.

Shocking Detail:
Williams and Howard also dedicate much imaginative energy to the walking dead.

“If Abraham Lincoln were to walk the streets of Washington today, he would be amazed and bewildered by what he would see … The electric streetcars and the automobiles would fill him with wonder. Even a boy on a bicycle would be a curiosity!”

They offer no insight into how much curiosity Zombie Lincoln would stir in the boy.

Other advances Williams and Howard expect might confound our sixteenth president: “tall buildings,” “electric street-lighting,” “moving-picture theaters,” “steam heating,” plumbing, and fountain pens. After a full page of this they conclude,”so rapid has been our progress in science and industry within the last hundred years that Lincoln would be more at home in ancient Athens than in Washington today.”

Yes, mastering Greek is easier than learning to flush.

Every once in a while, crap tells the truth.

Certainly, the cluttered developments of the World of Tomorrow will at last eliminate prejudice!

The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.